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Just Draw – Appropriation Game

I originally intended for this game to be a single player experience, but after playtesting with an improvised multiplayer mode where each player would take a turn drawing, I realized that the multiplayer was the real source of fun for the game. There was a lot of emergent behavior I would never have seen in the single player game. The players began to play cooperatively and began helping each other out with their drawings. Some began to purposefully draw in a certain way as to help the other player with their next drawing. The game turned into this strange dialogue between the players as they were both helping each other turn the same thing into two different things. There were some other emergent behaviors that I didn’t expect for individual players. When I played the game, I drew very minimally to make the next drawing easier. Seeing others play, they added a lot more detail that I would’ve added. People became very attached to their drawings in a way that I didn’t necessarily intend. People overall seemed to want more control over their drawing, so I added the ability to move the camera and zoom in and out as well as undo drawings. 

 

For my appropriation game, the player is given a prompt to draw, which must be drawn by appropriating the previous player’s drawing. After the drawing is complete a new prompt is given to the next player. My original idea with this game was to somehow have the game mechanic be appropriation itself. In my pitch, the game mechanic was for the player to be able to explore their own creations that have been appropriated by the computer. I was inspired by a lot of the more theatrical Dada pieces, especially the earlier Zurich movement where the participation of the audience was a key part of the performance. In this game the player is key in the performance of appropriation. After making the game multiplayer, the form of appropriation transformed so that while the two players had the same object that they were appropriating, they were instructed to appropriate in two seemingly conflicting ways. With this game I saw the use of appropriation as a way to resolve these conflicts. When the players would need to turn a dog into a tree through only additional pencil strokes, there is an immediate conflict that arises. The message I wanted to send through this piece was that only through the act of appropriation by the player do they progress. Another interesting part of my game is scale. I was inspired by the use of scale as a tool for transformation such as the giant joystick or tiny hammer. I forced the player’s drawings to zoom out over time rather than just have them move along the screen.

Just Draw Zoom Out

Ball Painting Score

Take multiple Tennis balls and different color paint cans, put the canvas in the middle of the room. Give the artists multiple gloves to be able to pick up and roll the ball across the canvas of different colors.  If everyone is alright they may bounce the ball to each other assuming they dont mind getting paint on themselves. The idea originally came around when my friend and personal trainer Kevin Brewerton showed me a video of him doing art with his boxing gloves and punching the canvas with paint on his gloves.  I wanted to take a step further and try throwing a baseball or hitting a baseball against the paint however many things can go wrong so quickly with that. Baseballs can deflect and hit someone, not enough space to protect the whole area from getting splashed. I then thought about doing something similar with throwing a tennis ball between two people against the wall but there’s still the potential of breaking the canvas and also dealing with covering up as much ground so we won’t get paint everywhere.  

What is needed for the happening:

  • Tennis Balls (six for this Happening)
  • Tempura Paint (Blue, Orange, Red, Green)
  • Paper plates to hold the paints
  • Disposable Gloves to help handle the tennis balls
  • A giant Tarp to paint on and also prevent the ground or room to be painted on
  • MISSING: (19in x 24in Paper as the canvas)
    • Tarp became the new Canvas

The results of the Happening: Lack of preparation for the Happening resulted in many changes to the final presentation. Didn’t have a place to prepare for the project nor could I get the tarp that I wanted to stay on the wall. The solution to this was to lay the tarp on the ground and instead bounce the tennis balls covered in paint.  The results are shown here:

The tennis balls ended up soaking up the paint and not splashing as much as I wished there would be. I had fun with the idea and it would be a lot of fun to potentially take this idea and reserve a room, get a ball that will splash more, and have the liberty of chucking the balls at full force without worrying about damages.  I find this can be a fun way to relieve stress by doing physical while also making art through your own physical actions.

Appropriated Art Show and Tell

For my show and tell, I chose to show Dumb Starbucks, a product of comedy show Nathan for You, where in the episode, a local coffee shop failing because of a nearby Starbucks calls in Nathan who suggests that they turn the coffee shop into parody art by branding itself as “Dumb Starbucks”. I chose this because I wanted to showcase both a different form of appropriation, parody, as well as showing the confusion over whether the act was a form of art. The Dumb Starbucks joke received international praise as a form of street art and it was rumored to be a creation of Banksy, but it’s interesting to see how people’s perspectives on whether something is art or not changes depending on the artist making it.

Elena Kosowski’s Example of Appropriation

My example of appropriation is the song “Pixel Galaxy” by Snail’s House. I listen to Snail’s House often, and when I first heard this song I thought it sounded very familiar. After some research, I realized that this song uses samples and melodies from a Kirby song. As a huge fan of Kirby, learning this only made me love the song more. The Kirby song that it samples is called “Green Greens”

Artwork #4: Final – “Exquisite Frenemy”

My project was designed to try to get players to not always take things at first glance. It was inspired by how we generally one thing and assume something about a person, when that isn’t always the case.

 

Version #1:
This game went through several iterations. The first was a basic trial where each player drew a card that simply said “friend” or “enemy” and including a defining characteristic that was contrary to the title on the card. The player then had to draw a character of their own creation that included that characteristic, but could still convince viewers that it was either a friend or enemy, as dictated by the card. They would then show all the other players their drawing and those players would have to vote on whether they thought it was a friend or an enemy. For example, a player could draw a card that said “enemy: must be smiling”. The smile could then cause people to think it was a friend, when it’s actually an enemy.

The problem with this version was that it was too black and white, and while they had that one parameter, there were too many other things they could draw to counter it. It was too open.

 

Version #2:
This version was similar to the first one, except instead of just saying friend or enemy, the card would list a single trait, which either a friend could or couldn’t have that the enemy would have the opposite of. The problem with this was if someone drew a card that simply listed something they could not draw, and again it was too open ended.

 

Version #3:
The third and final version of this game is a mix of telephone and exquisite corpse. Players sit in a circle, and the first player draws a card that either says friend or enemy, that no one else gets to see. They then draw an attribute from a bag (shown below) and place it on a figure of a person (also shown below). These are all made of magnets, and attach to the person. They then pass the person and the bag to the next player, who tries to decide whether it’s a friend or an enemy, based on the placement of the item, and then proceed to draw another attribute and attach it, depending on whether they thing it’s a friend or an enemy. During this process, no talking is allowed, which 1.) helps aid the mystery of the game and 2.) recreates that atmosphere of silent judgement throughout a group of people. When the person gets to the last player, that player tries to guess whether it’s a friend or an enemy, at which point the first player will reveal the truth.

 

Notes:
In earlier tests, I allowed dialogue between players and it was interesting to hear their thought processes about sizing up a person and which factors stood out to them more so than others. A lot of it pointed to their face or things they were holding, which leads me to believe that those are the first traits we notice about a person. However, what their face looked like always had an internal story others might have always known, and what they were holding could greatly vary depending on the circumstance. I think this game succeeded at least in pointing out the nuances of first impressions, and caused me to think a little bit more about just how we examine and understand others.

Artwork #3: Intervention – IRL Frogger

My piece was inspired by activism and civil disobedience. I also just wanted to make people more aware of those around them.

Basically, my intervention was to play Frogger in real life, by hopping across the streets as fast as possible whenever there was an opening, and doing my best to avoid contact with people. While this encouraged jaywalking, it also called people to pay attention to their surroundings. By making alert and well-timed decisions, as you would in the game Frogger, foot traffic could be largely reduced and become much more efficient.

It was hard actually implementing this, because when I would try to rush my way across frogger style, the light would change and people would all cross via the crosswalk. Basically, it became normal and lost its interventional value. Which was ironic because I almost always have to jaywalk.

Other than that, people seemed to recognize what I was doing, and someone who drove past rolled down their window and yelled “hey frogger!” which was kind of fun.

My roommate, being excited about irl Frogger.

Me, crossing as Frogger.

 

Artwork 4: Pillow Talk

The Game

So the game I made with a Pillow Simulator on Twine. In the game, the player has died and they answer a few questions. The questions don’t do much except give me insight about how what would the player miss besides material objects without outright stating what or who they would miss. I added this because this a reincarnation game and these games are not

And then they become a pillow and live out their lives as a pillow. A pillow has no agency or can do anything so the game is rather linear and the player’s input doesn’t really change anything. The player as a pillow never have any actions and rather observe events around them and to them. However games are known to have choice and so I put in a wish mechanic to give players a sort of ‘choice’. The wish mechanic doesn’t do anything except allow the player to choose an ‘option’ and develop their opinions on the events happening around them or to them since there’s no reason for the player to care because… they are a pillow. Change can’t happen with out external forces.

The inspiration for this is from Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit and from her series of talks such as “Stone Talk”, “Star Talk”, and “Line Talk”. She writes about what the objects are in simple statements and the reader is only being told what the object is without a sense that they can object. It’s from a 3rd person perspective and I wanted to change it into 1st person because inanimate objects have such mundane life and exploring it interested me.

An example of this in my game is the statement, “A pillow can’t breathe”. But inside the pillow is a human soul and there’s a part where they try to breathe. It doesn’t work, but they compromise with feeling the air in-between their fibers.

The original idea for the game was to have a questionnaire and then the player will become one of three inanimate objects and a small vignette will play. However as I was writing the pillow route, I got more invested into it and realized a week later that doing three in the same scale in the time frame wasn’t possible. So I devoted my time to the pillow route and got rid of the other options and questionnaire.

Documentation

The first person who playtested was rather taken back by how much was written and how realistic it was. They were expecting more of a humorous tone since the concept of the game is the player died and has turned into a pillow. Part of them thinking that, besides the ridiculous concept, is because I called the game a Pillow Simulator so one of my notes became to rename the project.

There were a fair amount of confusion with the things I was describing such as the plastic carry-on a pillow comes with or the florescent lighting through the bag. A lot of the players were confused with the ball of light in the beginning and so I had to put in the beginning that the player has died. I didn’t want to remove those parts because that is part of being a pillow, waiting to be bought so I added more reveal and realization when the player realizes they’re a pillow after they’ve been bought and taken out of their plastic prison.

I considered adding the sardonic tone and questionnaire from my 2nd Artwork. However one of my players pointed out that the tone of game isn’t sardonic and that adding the questionnaire might make others players think it’ll be funny instead of being contemplative and semi-realistic.

Another big change I made was splitting the descriptions and events more. Because a lot of the time it would be a giant block of text and one of the player would lose their place and zone out while reading the game.

Other changes were the tense changing a lot even in the same page along with a lot of typos.

Artwork 4: Hyperion (Tallest Tree)

For this last project I made a Twine game. My idea was the ecosystem of a forest, specifically that of the coast redwoods in California. You play as Hyperion, the tallest living tree in the world. There are four stats: erosion, pesticide impact, hydration, and fire risk. They grow each turn depending on which situations are randomly chosen from the links clicked. There is little autonomy, only in the form of in-between turns that reveal more text and heal  one point, which is not enough to make a difference. It plays between the normal mode of a Twine game, which is augmented story-telling, and the mode of games where your choices make a difference and you have to conserve your stats.

I decided to use this mechanic to illustrate the state of a tree: it has some processes it goes through, but it’s helpless in the face of global warming to protect itself. Writing from the point of view of an inanimate object was an interesting exercise in how they would experience things, and a switch from most games which are about the human condition, not the environmental one. (Originally there were background illustrations as well, in the form of foot prints of the animals described, but they looked weird so I got rid of them. I might add them back in as gifs.) It also became a slightly educational game, as I did a lot of research and incorporated those details into the game.

Originally the idea was that no matter what you clicked, nothing you did could change the outcome of you dying. I kept the game mostly the same through my iterations, except I added “surviving the year” as a sort of winning end state; however, if the player decides to live another year, inevitably they’ll die. I also added in the “Breathe” stages to give the player extra interaction and add more prose. I wanted to encourage replayability so that the player would cycle through all the possible disaster options.

My inspiration was many different things. Several different Twine games, including howling dogs by Porpentine, which deals with monotony, and Sentry by David Labelle, where you are in the position of a content moderator doing the same thing each day, and are sometimes inexplicably fired. Also, Romero’s The Mechanic is the Message game Síochán leat with its inevitable unwinnability which was mentioned in Works of Game. I like how the actual gameplay is what tells the story in the style of art games. I have more text than just mechanic, but the helplessness is the same; hopefully, it helps people understand more about the fragile state of the redwoods and calls them to action.

The download link is here. When you download and open it, it should open in your browser: https://www.dropbox.com/s/imk1zpceisyvq2a/petrucci%20tree.html?dl=0

 

Artwork 4: From Above

My Final Project, From Above, is a on-rails first person shooter in which the player is tasked with destroying as many enemy targets as possible in thirty seconds, while avoiding civilians. However, the twist is that there is no distinction between enemy and civilian, and there are no consequences for destroying any potential civilian targets.

The game is very simple, and short, but it aims to address the effects of warfare upon our modern society, and the effects of modern society upon warfare. With the advent of Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAV for short), many soldiers are now completely detached from the suffering they inflict upon people. UAV pilots can be sitting in an air conditioned office thousands of miles away while dropping bombs on civilians from thousands of feet in the air. While the player in From Above isn’t that high up, being above and away from the people you’re killing makes it seem much less personal and nasty.

As mentioned above, players are unable to distinguish between civilian and enemy targets. The main reason behind this choice, and why there’s no score or docked points on the “Mission Complete” screen, is because, much like in real life, there aren’t many immediate consequences to these actions. Despite being one of the highest funded branches of the government, the military lacks accountability. As seen during the infamous My Lai Massacre,  the military would rather try to bury a massacre than convict those responsible.

In the end, the root of problems like detachment from the battlefield and the lack of accountability is the military’s detachment from the people they’re supposed to be helping. During the Vietnam War, the US Military was ostensibly trying to help the South Vietnamese, but a lack of connection with and understanding of the Vietnamese made their mission doomed to fail. The same can be said for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, who are told that the United States is trying to help them after their village is destroyed. The player character in From Above is ostensibly there to help the unnamed people who they end up bombing.

As for inspirations for this game, two of my biggest came from very different places. The first is Kieran’s Space Invaders game, in which the only way for the players to truly win the game was to not shoot at the approaching aliens. While what the player does in From Above doesn’t really affect the final outcome, I liked the idea of a game that subverts or messes with your expectations. The second is the famous, or infamous as the case may be, “Death from Above” mission in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.  While the player character is a AC-130 pilot instead of a UAV Pilot (meaning that they’re actually inside a plane right above the battlefield), the outcome is still the same. Death is rained down from above, and there is nothing that the moving dots can do about it. It is hard to tell whether the game was trying to make this a cool moment, or was actually trying to send a message by showing how cold and dispassionate this kind of fighting is, but it’s a mission that’s always stuck with me, and many others.